This week a Washington state judge ruled that social casino app 'Big Fish Casino' is indeed gambling, overturning a lower court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit that claimed as much.
The decision was made by Circuit Court Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., who opined: "In this appeal, we consider whether the virtual game platform "Big Fish Casino" constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law. Defendant-Appellee Churchill Downs, the game's owner and operator, has made millions of dollars off of Big Fish Casino. However, despite collecting millions in revenue, Churchill Downs, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, purports to be shocked-shocked!-to find that Big Fish Casino could constitute illegal gambling. We are not. We therefore reverse the district court and hold that because Big Fish Casino's virtual chips are a "thing of value," Big Fish Casino constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law."
The decision by Judge Smith will allow that initial lawsuit against Big Fish owners Churchill Downs to move to trial, where a jury will decide which side will emerge victoriously. Big Fish operates by allowing users to play casino games for free using chips that are awarded at intervals throughout the day. If players decide that they don't want to wait, they have the option of buying additional chips to play in faster. Of course, no real money can be won from these virtual chips, but the product remains a big-earner for Churchill Downs nonetheless.
If the case is ruled against Big Fish, the repercussions could be huge for the social betting industry. It's possible that we could end up seeing a large change in how these companies conduct their business.
Casino Listings News will keep our ears to the ground on this story and will update readers as the case progresses.